Unlocking Trust Through Stories With Tonya McKenzie


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Episode Overview:

In this Unlocked podcast episode, our guest Tonya McKenzie, a seasoned publicist and storyteller, delves into the profound impact of storytelling on building trust. Drawing from her extensive experience, McKenzie emphasizes the power of narratives in fostering authentic connections and building relationships. She explores how storytelling transcends mere communication, serving as a catalyst for trust by allowing individuals to share their vulnerabilities and experiences. Through insightful anecdotes and practical advice, McKenzie illuminates the transformative potential of storytelling in both personal and professional spheres, offering valuable insights for anyone seeking to unlock the potent force of trust through the art of storytelling.

Additional Resources:

* Website

Skot Waldron (00:01.271)
Hey, Tanya.

Tonya McKenzie (00:03.683)
Hey, how you doing, Scott?

Skot Waldron (00:05.932)
I'm good. Thanks for waking up early to hang out with me. I really appreciate it. Cause you woke up early just to talk to me. Right?

Tonya McKenzie (00:09.619)
Excited to do it. I did actually today because I thought about sleeping in, but I knew I had Scott on the calendar, so had to make it happen.

Skot Waldron (00:17.258)
That's it. You did your hair. It's like, Oh man, you did it all up. I've I appreciate that. I appreciate that. Um, there's a specific thing we're going to talk about today that, you know, coming from the brand strategy background and doing a lot of work I did with corporations and learning how to tell brand stories and how to connect with their audience, et cetera, storytelling was a big part of what we did.

It was a big part of understanding kind of the hero's journey and where do you go and how do you do this and what's the problem you're trying to solve for your customer, but I've never really talked about it from a leadership standpoint. So here we go.

Tonya McKenzie (01:00.655)
Here we go, let's do it.

Skot Waldron (01:02.274)
Tell me why we should even listen to you in the first place.

Tonya McKenzie (01:06.807)
Well, my experience is extensive. I'm a gun violence survivor. I have four children and a set of twins. So I've learned how to survive the insurmountable.

Skot Waldron (01:19.826)
A set of twins. So one set of twins wasn't enough. You had to have two.

Tonya McKenzie (01:20.151)

Tonya McKenzie (01:26.475)
No, I had two and then I had a set of twins. So my child count doubled. So I don't know how you feel about kids, but to go from two to four is like insane, first of all. And then I had to realize there are people that actually pay doctors to do this to them. Oh my God.

Skot Waldron (01:29.806)
Oh, okay, I got you, I got you.

Skot Waldron (01:37.738)

Skot Waldron (01:46.928)
So I always think about the people that go from two to three and I'm like, you just messed up your whole roller coaster ride. Like who's going to ride with that kid? You know, that kid just has to sit on the bench and wait for everybody else to ride the roller coaster first. But now, but you did it smart. It was like, you just doubled it. So now they have a partner to ride the roller coaster with.

Tonya McKenzie (02:05.627)
I mean, that didn't go over well with my husband because he's very money minded. So it was kind of awkward for a while.

Skot Waldron (02:12.778)
Okay. Little, little contention there. Why did you have to have twins? You know? So it's like, yeah.

Tonya McKenzie (02:17.463)
Yeah, that whole thing. Like you didn't know this was going to happen. And I actually, listen, I have about 11 sets of twins in my family, but you don't realize that you start counting. But even if you know that you never think it's going to happen to you, right? And I think that is a culmination of most of our experiences in life. No matter how possible you think things are, you never think it's going to happen to you. And then it does. And you're like, all right.

So, you know, in regards to storytelling though, I have to be honest and say, a lot of my experience comes from being thrown in the fire and trying to figure it out. And I think many of us have had that experience on jobs and in situations, whether it's nonprofits and you're volunteering, nobody ever has really a good blueprint to share with you. You have to figure it out. I worked for the YMCA, my first job out of college.

and they needed to raise money for a new building. I moved to the city called Oakley, and most people in the Bay Area, I'm from the Bay, moved to LA, moved back to the Bay after graduation, and I moved to Oakley. Me and my husband bought our first house there, so when I was telling my friends, they were like, Oakley, you mean Oakland? And I'm like, no, actually, no. It was a town becoming a city. So I don't know how many people have that experience, like moving to a town that becomes a...

whole city, but that's when the market was growing and things were just growing up, it's initially and they needed to build a new center, but they didn't have the money. So they hired me to be the associate executive director and you know, you're fresh out of college. You're like, oh my God, I'm gonna do this thing. They hired me to be the associate executive director, but they didn't have the money to pay me. So I agreed to something, but I didn't have the money for it. All that being said, I learned how to build my position.

So doing a lot of market research, a lot of phone calls and cold calling, but you learn how to build community. We eventually raised over a million dollars and opened a new facility. That's now I can go back and it's like a whole like town center now for kids and older people and active older adults and senior, like it's a whole thing. But it started out as this, it was actually under a restaurant.

Tonya McKenzie (04:47.823)
It's like a box under a restaurant. And they're like, this is your YMCA. I'm from San Jose, California. So I'm used to really big YMCA's. So when I'm there, I was like, I felt like it was a bunker. And it was a town too. I was like, do they bomb here? Like what is going on? So I agreed to do it, but it was more or less because I saw the need. You having no idea what it would take. Eventually we built this new facility.

But it all happened with storytelling because we didn't have no money. So I had to do something. So I dug in my bag of how do I connect with these people? One, that don't look like me, right? So there was like five black people in the whole city and only two of them came outside. How do I connect with these people to get them to see what I'm trying to do for their city? I'm new here. I can just leave. They invested.

their whole lives here, their kids grew up here and left. How do I connect to get them to see what we're trying to do and get the support and make this whole thing happen? And at the end of the day, it wanted to be storytelling, which in essence is public relations, but I didn't understand that then. I understand that now.

Skot Waldron (06:05.354)
So you're, you're in the, like the PR throw me in the fire. You're in the fire. I'm going to jump in the fire with you now. Like, yeah, yeah. I mean, you don't really get thrown in the fire as much as you get like jump in the fire.

Tonya McKenzie (06:21.747)
I walk into fires now, before I was thrown in the fire. But what happens is it's survival tactics. It's like, you know, I learned that though, most jobs now, especially at the rapid rate that our commerce is growing and how digital we have become, most things are new to just about everyone. Even if you are experienced by next month, something new has developed and you need to adapt. How do you do that?

Skot Waldron (06:23.402)
Yeah, wow.

Tonya McKenzie (06:51.795)
All right, so.

Skot Waldron (06:52.014)
Tell me, tell me how, um, so you as a PR professional, I can look at you one way and I can go, she's a spin doctor. She just puts like the candy coating on stuff and makes the horrible look. Like I can digest it, you know? Um, but that's not what always what you do, right? Like, I mean, it's, it's the thing. It's like, yeah, sure. There's some problems and you need to come in and learn how to correct them or

Tonya McKenzie (07:07.084)

Skot Waldron (07:20.77)
You know, make sure the boat is still going in the right direction and make sure that we're all like still on this and bad things happen and we just got to learn how to deal with this, but you use story to help do that. Why, why do you use story to help, um, companies help leaders, help people realign the ship.

Tonya McKenzie (07:41.495)
Two things I've learned. One is most people don't even recognize their best qualities, right? You need someone objective to be able to point out the good things about you, about your company that most owners and execs miss because they're not objective, they're very subjective. So they miss the best things about them. So even if we walk into a crisis,

they have most of the time have missed the best parts of them that they haven't shared with their public. The second part is because stories resonate. Most people don't recognize what they have in common until a story is told. Most people don't recognize because they might look different or be from different places how much they do actually have in common. So being able to tell stories that connect with your target audience or the community that you're in.

you serve allows for people to immediately connect to you. So you're not, it doesn't feel combative. That's how you break down that walls of combativeness and opposition is the minute that you realize, I might actually have something in common with this person. So even when people hate each other or they think they hate each other, when you're looking at things like racial division,

or political division. You can say I'm Democrat or Republican, but then when you start looking at local politics, local politics, no one cares if you're Democrat or Republican because the issues are very day to day. Those things that, who's doing our, who's taking care of the trash in the community? What's happening at the center for the kids? You know, our education.

Those are the things that surpass your political party. So finding those things, being able to have a conversation with a client, to find those things that might resonate with somebody across the table from you, is hugely important and storytelling usually does that. For instance, I had a conversation with a corporation, I think it was Microsoft, and it was very diverse, right?

Tonya McKenzie (10:06.551)
No one in the room looked like everyone was from somewhere different. But when we started having conversations about, I started having them tell stories about their upbringing. And as they were telling those stories, they started to realize how much they had in common, rather than what differentiated them, rather than what divided them.

And the moment you start to find similarities, it breaks down those walls of division.

then you can start having those higher level conversations.

Skot Waldron (10:44.183)
I was-

I was reading a book and I was being also mentored by a guy, Mark Goldston, who had passed away here in late December, um, therapist and did a lot for the, for the world mentored a lot of different people and he has a book called just listen and there was a, um, but I can't remember if it was in his book or if we were talking about it one time on a call, but he talked about this idea of, um, you know, where

we're battling each other. So at the end of the day, sometimes it comes down to, hey, hold up, I'm not trying to attack you and I don't believe you're trying to attack me. I feel like you're trying to defend yourself and I'm trying to defend myself. And it comes down to that sometimes, it's really just like, I'm just defending my position, I don't feel heard and I don't feel like you're valuing me. And I'm sure you probably don't feel heard or aren't valued by.

Me either. Like, and so we find ourselves like battling this, this like, we're putting up walls instead of like really attacking each other. And when we start to, I guess, bring those walls down and start going, hold up all these points aside, what are you trying to achieve? Oh, me too. Like I want that too. Good. Now we have some common ground that we can build something on.

There's different ways to do it, but we're both going for the same thing. Is that kind of what you're talking about?

Tonya McKenzie (12:18.799)
Absolutely, and that gives you the opportunity to say, okay, well, how do we get there? So even in a company as large as Microsoft, there's so much that you might have in common with the person next to you, but you never took the time to even see that. Our goals might be the same. Our affinity towards success might be the same. Our background of, you know, legacies and...

what our grandparents had in common. Those things might be the same, but until you start really sharing the stories and sharing more about yourself, sharing more about your experiences, you never get to break those walls down. You just assume we are at odds, we're competing. I'm trying to get the raise and you're in my way. But if the goal is to win, let's talk about what we have in common.

Let's talk about how we both get to that win. How we enjoy, you know, being put in a position to make this happen. Ooh, together, oh my God. Together, yeah, together. Because people, our society pits us against each other. Again, depending on what we look like, our religion, where we're from, background. When you start sharing stories and you have commonalities, it immediately...

defrosts a lot of ice that you didn't even put there. Someone else did, your grandmother, the boss, whatever. It's easier to divide and conquer than it is to bring people together. So my job as a PR professional is to get those stories out of you that will resonate with someone across the aisle, that will resonate with your peer, that will resonate with a customer.

so that they recognize we have more in common than we don't. And it allows for your humanity to shine through. Like we continue to lose that, especially in a digital age. People are so divided and these digital barriers are up. Where's the humanity at in there? And most of the time it's in the stories that we tell. And that's why it's not just about the company anymore. It's like, is the company doing good? How is the company?

Tonya McKenzie (14:43.315)
leaving the world better than they got it. And then what are those stories? Because those are the stories that are gonna be impactful to people in the organization that buy in and the consumers that you're looking to be raving fans. All of those things matter. It lets people know who you are because no one's perfect. But when you're able to magnify the humanity of someone through the stories that

they are a part of, it allows for your errors to be seen as human instead of malicious or negligent. There's just various different ways to melt ice and bring people together if we just allow ourselves to do that. And it's hard, that's really hard because we're not taught to be emotional. We're not taught to be, even though we use the word transparency all the time, there's transparency with a little secret in it.

in there, like what? And I have to, as a professional, hear that and be like, I'm missing, I must be missing something. I must be missing something. And usually it's something in the story that a person is afraid to reveal because it might reveal some vulnerability. So storytelling is about releasing the vulnerability and transparency in the stories of the lives that you are impacting or have been impacted by.

Skot Waldron (16:12.386)
So if I'm a, if I'm a, if I'm a leader of an organization, I'm a leader of a team, uh, whatnot, how, how would I go about being more intentional about using storytelling to bridge divides on my team, get people more engaged, help them understand that here's a good one. You're ready for this one. I'm going to throw this one at you. Um, there's layoffs, right? Reorgs, whatever's happening.

Tonya McKenzie (16:12.564)
That make sense?

Skot Waldron (16:42.09)
And this there's multiple, it's not just one, maybe there's this one. And then in a few months, there's another one. People are going to be fearful and people are going to be kind of like guarded and they're not going to be fully engaged. Um, they're going to be like, wondering what's going on and talking about this and what's in, and the leadership has a very fine line to walk of.

how much do we let people know about what's going on versus not let them know? If we don't let anybody know, then we catch everybody blindsided, which we've heard that happen before. And then if we do let everybody know, we may be letting them know too much and then they go leave and there's other people like, how would that particular leader use storytelling to help bridge that gap of pain?

Tonya McKenzie (17:36.463)
Couple things, most leaders have been through something like that, right? So even starting off sharing their own experience, that's one, and you don't just share it, you talk about the feelings that you experienced during that process. Be transparent about that. You were scared when it happened. You were worried when these phone calls were coming in. Using words that resonate.

with your audience, which are the people that you're about to lay off for your company. Being transparent about where the finances are if that is why you're doing these layoffs, right? And then here's the kicker. And I've seen this happen amazingly with some companies. Have resources available for when that happens. So yeah, we do have to have layoffs, but.

I've also contacted a few organizations that are hiring in A, B, and C positions, and they'll be waiting for your call. That gives them a little relief, letting them know, well, at least they see me, or at least they're concerned that around Christmas we're getting laid off and this might help us. Or allowing for the financial piece of it to be taken care of for an extended period of time. Some level of humanity that acknowledges, I know what

you're going through and we're going to do the best that we can as an organization to support you through something that is no fault of your own. What else can you do besides just giving someone the deuces and being like, good luck, all right? What else can you do? How are you making it better? And once we're done with our reorg, you're welcome to apply or we'll give you a call. Like where's the humanity in what you're doing? One,

share your story too, allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to offer the things that you would have wanted had it happened to you.

Skot Waldron (19:46.838)
Where is the humanity? I love that. Cause you said that earlier too, about the digital divide, um, and kind of these digital walls that we all kind of hide behind and we see it with the younger generations for sure, uh, when it comes to relationships and other things, there's a lot of, you know, hiding behind a digital device to be able to say or do whatever I want because it's not a real person I'm talking to, it's a phone. And so there's a little bit of that.

disconnect of humanity. Um, you know, video conferencing or whatever is kind of a step closer, but it still doesn't mimic the real thing. And, um, really being able to help empathize, uh, sympathize with others is, is truly powerful. And I love that thought. It goes back to this idea that I always talk about a being for others rather than for yourself, um, or against others.

And people can sense it. And, uh, if the difference I heard you say is, Hey everybody, the difference between, Hey, peace out, I hope, you know, good luck, sorry, this is happening. You know, we've got our own problems that we're dealing with. That is a definitely for me attitude. Hey, sorry, everybody. This is happening. I feel you. I've been through the same thing. It was scary.

And it was hard. And that's why actually I've called these other companies and we've set up some other interviews and for any of you that have this or resources or. You know, people that you'd like to talk to, there's some coaches out there that are willing to help you that we, that we've employed and like that is. Hey, this sucks. It doesn't change what's happening, but it also lets you know that I'm at least for you.

Tonya McKenzie (21:34.935)
You know, there have been some companies that have handled layoffs so poorly in the last couple of years, like sending an email to 200 people and just...

Skot Waldron (21:45.874)
On a sat, I just heard one, somebody just told me a company sent an email out on a Saturday and laid off a bunch of people. And I was going, wow. First of all, you made me work on a Saturday to send that email unless you put a delay on it or whatever. But there was like, who was the strategy in that? I don't know, I'm sure there was some strategy, but.

Tonya McKenzie (22:08.151)
or you come to work and your keep-up is just not working?

Skot Waldron (22:10.95)
Yeah, yeah, that one. Hey, can somebody let me in? No. Yeah. Yeah, here's your box of stuff. Oh my gosh, that's crazy.

Tonya McKenzie (22:15.145)
Actually, and here's your box of stuff.

Tonya McKenzie (22:21.271)
So yeah, those things, they matter. They really matter because it allows for people to heal. Bad things will happen. Whether it's, you know, you got a consumer item and it made you sick or something bad happened. It was defective. That's upsetting. Anytime trust is broken, it's upsetting. So how do you rebuild that trust? Or how did you set yourself up so well where they recognize...

This was an error. It wasn't malicious. And we can move forward.

Skot Waldron (22:57.506)
How do we, that's a good one. Can we hang on that for a second? So this trust word is a, is a big deal. Um, I've talked a lot about trust and the means of how do I build influence with others because influence is power and, and if I. Don't have influence with you. I don't have a lot. Um, you're not going to listen to my ideas. You're not going to listen to, you're not going to respect the things I do. It's just, there's a whole thing. Trust is a big, huge component of building influence.

And if I break that trust, what's it take to get it back? So I have my own brand strategy world theories on some of this stuff, but I'm interested to hear what you say about that idea of like, I build trust with you. What's it take to get it back? How do I use storytelling to do that, et cetera.

Tonya McKenzie (23:33.059)

Tonya McKenzie (23:48.771)
So most people will call that crisis PR or reputation management. I call it course correction because you're gonna have to change course. Nobody really just stops and then restart something new. That's strange. You really have to course correct. How do I do that while things are still in motion? One, you have to stop and listen. Just shut up and listen. Listen to the complaints, listen to social listening on...

you know, the World Wide Web, you have to listen. Shut up, be still and listen. And then you have to acknowledge that there was a problem. First of all, acknowledge there was a problem or some broken trust. Then acknowledge your part in that broken trust.

You cannot scapegoat and think that we're going to be able to rebuild trust or move forward. You have to acknowledge your part in it. You can't give general apologies like, if I, if you feel disrespected, I'm so sorry. Like no, acknowledge what you did to lose trust, to break that trust, to make that person feel disrespected. I don't know what I could have said, but I'm sorry.

Well, if you're not acknowledging what you said, then you're not sorry. We have to identify the problem and the part that you played in it. And then you have to talk about what you are going to do to fix it. This is how I'm going to handle that moving forward. This is what I'm going to do to win your trust back, to show you that I'm worthy of you trusting me again, to show you that I'm worthy of your money or your time again. This is what I'm going to do.

then you have to do it consistently. And then you have to be patient because you don't get to decide when someone else is over what you did to them, whether it's a customer and a relationship, you don't get to decide the timing of that because everybody has their own timing. So you still have to be consistent while you're waiting. You don't get to, once you've broken the trust, you don't get to dictate how it moves forward. You just have to do your part, shut your mouth.

Tonya McKenzie (26:06.723)
Don't go back on what you said and keep moving forward and keep delivering those results. That is the only way.

Skot Waldron (26:12.822)
And how long, I mean, it's like, cause I'll relate back to this too. And tell people that, you know, at some point, you know, we're all going to kind of mess up. Yeah. I mean, your pizza is going to come out cold or maybe we didn't come to the table for 15 minutes and refill your water or whatever, right? So, Oh, or made you sick. Oh, that's not a good one. Not a good one. It, it's so true.

Tonya McKenzie (26:31.307)
or it made you sick.

Tonya McKenzie (26:36.884)
But it's true!

Skot Waldron (26:40.526)
So my, my thoughts about that kind of go into this, um, the back to this theory of, uh, one N equals five P John Gottman, Dr. John Gottman, um, relationship expert. Came with this principle of one N equals five P for every negative. Um, I guess interaction I have with my loved one, it takes five positive ones to neutralize that one negative and over.

And he noticed that when that ratio was out of whack is when couples led to divorce. He was able to predict with, you know, super high accuracy, how many couples will get divorced in the next few years based on their interactions of one N equals five P and I use that in brand strategy world too. And I was just like, you know, Delta loses my baggage. It's not like, hello, Mr. Waldron, so sorry we lost your baggage. Are we good? And I'm like, no.

Tonya McKenzie (27:16.142)

Skot Waldron (27:33.878)
Like, no, not good. You know, it's kind of like, it's going to take a little time. Like for me to do that, maybe five interactions of positivity to help me get over this thing or whatever. But I love this thing about, you know, we don't, it's really hard to not be in control of other people forgiving us for the thing, you know, cause it's like Tanya told me to do this, this. I did it. I checked the boxes, Tanya, and they still don't, you know, they still don't.

Forgive me. So you must be wrong.

Tonya McKenzie (28:08.067)
That's why there is no number to that and you know everyone has their About five times it could eat it could be less than that. You know if they were like you're right I lost it my bad, and I give you ten thousand dollars worth of flight credit, and I give you You know the lounge for a year, and I give you It could be two great things and you're like okay. I get it. You're right Okay, I understand. You're sorry

I understand it was a mistake. If they're also telling stories throughout their time in business about other things that they've done that have positively impacted people, you're gonna be less worried about, should I even bother forgiving them? Because you know, they're out in the world doing good, they're impacting lives, they're donating to all these causes, they're doing amazing work, so you know, it was a mess up, and they've identified the employee that did it, and...

We've rectified how A, B, and C happens to make sure that doesn't happen again. You're gonna be like, okay, you're right. I've been with y'all for frequent flyer with y'all for 10 years. I've never had this before. You're making up for it. And I know you're out doing good. You're less likely to be like, I'm still not, I'm still not, takes 20 times. No, you've been with them for so long and you've seen all the good that they've been doing consistently over the years. It's probably going to take even less than the five.

Right? But when you're jet blue and you messing up all the time, there's fights all over the place and you lose them luggage all the time and they say, I'm sorry, and they give you $2,000 in credit, you still gonna be like, man, I don't trust you. Okay. Right?

Skot Waldron (29:48.546)
This episode brought to you by JetBlue and I think that's so true. But that's where it bridges, I believe into the realm of trust versus loyalty is, and I think that's a difference between dating and marriage in a way, right? Is, you know, dating, I'm going to probably be less forgiving of you talking to that way to wrong or wearing the same clothes over and over and over and over and over again, but you know.

When I'm married, I can wear the same sweatpants five days in a row. And you know, yeah, kind of give me a pass on that. And I think that when we're loyal, there's some exceptions to the rule and loyalty. And I think that comes with my heart is now with you. And when I see the stories you've told, when I feel the stories you've told, and I believe that they're not just a bunch of smoke, some of it may be smoke, but.

Tonya McKenzie (30:23.23)

Tonya McKenzie (30:31.066)

Skot Waldron (30:46.454)
You know, when I believe that there's also some good you're doing in the world, whether it's smoke or not, I still see the good and the impact and it connects with my good. Then I'm willing to forgive you on some things. Would you go there?

Tonya McKenzie (31:02.569)
I would go there.

Skot Waldron (31:03.774)
What, what is the, um, what do you think the biggest problem is that leaders face when it comes to, um, I guess, adapting to the idea of storytelling or understanding when stories need to be told.

Tonya McKenzie (31:18.415)
Sometimes leaders have far removed themselves from being the face of an organization, being on the front lines, that they forget how important it is. That's really it. That's why you have organizations that do really well because their leaders might stay in the front. They stay on the pulse of the consumers. They stay involved. They're still talking to people. They're still...

interacting with lower level teammates and all the way through the organization, still listening, actively listening to what consumers or supporters might need. Particularly when you're looking at government organizations and civic organizations, nonprofits, those CEOs, those executive directors, they need to be, they need to remain connected.

And that's where you can tell where leadership, the leadership divide is like, don't get too far removed. Don't get too far removed from the people that are really making it happen for your organization. Because not only what your organization is doing is important, but the people that are in your organization doing the work are important. So just don't ever get above it.

Skot Waldron (32:41.494)
I love that. I was...

Skot Waldron (32:46.927)
I guess I've been in that world of trying to help leaders understand that the people lower down on the totem pole are also sitting there thinking about, oh, and just like, oh, I never get to talk to that person. That person's too high up. That person is...

I don't have anything to add to them and I don't know why they would even listen to me. And, and that type of organization where we create that divide and that distance is what creates silos and toxicity and us against them mentality. And until we realize, and I love that you, that those like print, paint that example of what you said of being front and center, the leaders that aren't hiding that not necessarily that they mean to hide, but

that just end up what they do, then maybe they're not comfortable being out front. Maybe they're afraid they are going to tell the wrong story and disconnect some people and lose a reputation and that, but it goes back to the vulnerability thing that you mentioned too. So.

Tonya McKenzie (33:49.879)
You know who does really well, leaders that do really well are leaders that started at the bottom because they recognize it, right? Not those that just came in at the top, but those that really started as a frontline person, whether it's a nonprofit organization and they were a program director, and now they're the executive director or someone that's now a CEO, but they started the company so they know what it took to get there.

Those are the people that do really well because they recognize the struggle, the sweat, the sacrifice that is made to get an organization to that level. They've had failure. So they know what that feels like. They've tried to build a family while building a business. All of those things resonate. And then those are stories that you can tell that resonate with your team. But if you haven't had that experience, how can you tell that story?

Like we have a mayor, well he recently passed, but he ain't got no kids. So when I would talk to him about youth programs, nothing clicked, like nothing. There was never a moment where it was like, oh yeah, we should do that. No, it was never. And most of our leadership here in city council, they don't have kids, maybe one out of five, maybe two now. We have one woman out of five. But they don't, so for the rest of the constituents, they're just like...

Skot Waldron (34:49.601)

Skot Waldron (35:20.834)

Tonya McKenzie (35:29.25)

So it matters, like it 100% matters, the stories that you can tell that resonate with the community or the customers that you serve. That's the first part of storytelling is connecting immediately. Don't drag it out. Say something that triggers a response. Say something that triggers them to connect to you. And then go on with the rest of your story. But if we ain't got nothing in common.

or you haven't even taken the time to identify what we might have in common, to tell a story that resonates, there's always gonna be a disconnect.

Skot Waldron (36:08.43)
I think about this a lot in public speaking too. And this is something I've had to learn. I'm still trying to learn it as, uh, as a professional speaker is, and maybe you have the same experience of, and you're probably a lot better at it than I am, I'd love to, I'd love to see you in action, but it's kind of this, how do I connect with the audience and me? Cause they don't know me and I'm getting up on stage and they're thinking we have. Oh my gosh, please don't let this be a boring talk or like

They want something out of it. They have no idea what they're going to get. Like those first moments are going to make or break me. And how do I immediately build trust and some connection with them is the first thing that I'm trying to think about. So I love that you said that I don't necessarily think I was intentional. Maybe I was intentional about it, but the way you put it, um, I think is, is just another level, so I'm going to be thinking about that.

in the future, so thanks for that. Love it. If, um, this has been a wealth of gold and I loved kind of the organic discussion we've had about this topic. Um, we didn't get to talk about your LA County commission position and the things that you're doing there. Um, you've kind of mentioned a few things here. That's part two. We're going to have a three hour episode all about that. So get ready everyone. Here it comes.

Tonya McKenzie (37:08.399)
Connect, just jump right in.

Tonya McKenzie (37:29.615)
We're gonna have to have it.

Tonya McKenzie (37:36.889)
I love it.

Skot Waldron (37:38.111)
Um, I really appreciate you being on the show, Tanya. Um, people want to connect with you. They want to figure out how you can help them tell their story, whether it's a personal brand standpoint, a corporate standpoint, like who are you working with and how do they get in touch with you?

Tonya McKenzie (37:54.231)
I'm pretty consistent. So on all social media platforms, I'm Tanya McKenzie PR. You can Google me. It's really easy. My company is Sand and Shores on all social media platforms also. But I try to be consistent throughout my life to make it easy. I still have the same phone number from 20 years ago. So if there's anything you ever need though, really, I do PR and public service. It's been my life for the last 20 years. I think those things are important.

telling your story is important and connecting to people that you impact definitely helps you leave a legacy. So once you decide what you want your legacy to be, you know, you just start paving the path.

Skot Waldron (38:36.45)
Beautiful. You're awesome. Thank you so much. Um, I'm going to point people to you if, uh, if they need any of this because you're good and I like your brain. So well done.

Tonya McKenzie (38:46.571)
I appreciate you. Thank you so much.


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